Jason and I have a bit of a history with Wilson, having been involved in a lively 2006 debate at Lavartus Prodeo on think-tanks and the significance (or otherwise) of who funds them. Wilson tried to wipe her past by getting LP to delete her posts and comments, but it all lives on in the National Library’s archives.
The pieces of the story are really starting to fit together now. Wilson knows the right is evil, but she hasn’t actually read very much of what they say, and is vague on the differences between the various right-of-centre groups and magazines.
For a hoax using gullibility for pro-genetic modification views – Wilson is an anti-GM activist – the target should have been the IPA Review. The IPA has published lots of pro-GM stuff over the years (eg this). The more conservative Quadrant contributors, as I argued on Tuesday, are much less likely to be pro-GM, and indeed likely to be worried about the way genetic science is developing (Quadrant doesn’t have much on its website, but this is the kind of thing I am thinking of).
Of course, IPA Review editor Chris Berg does not have Keith Windschuttle’s reputation as a footnote fetishist, but to make the political point on GM foods he should have been the target. Wilson hoaxed the wrong magazine.
The hoax affair also seems to me to fit with Wilson’s modus operandi. She isn’t much interested in debating the substance of issues with people on the right. Her aim is to discredit them on other grounds.
For think-tanks, all you need to know is that they get corporate donations. During that Lavartus Prodeo debate (at comment 130) she had a moment of candour when, in response to my concern that forcing disclosure of donors to think-tanks might have a chilling effect on political participation, she said that this might be a good thing. As with Smith and Marden, the agenda is to try to diminish the role of think-tanks in public debate.
Similarly, she wants to discredit Quadrant and Windschuttle in particular not by directly taking issue with what they publish, but by making them look foolish by publishing an article she had booby-trapped with errors and false statements.
Quadrant has certainly had a few days of publicity it could have done without, and all of us who edit magazines will be ultra-vigilant with new contributors as a result (though I publish very few previously unknown people anyway). But as I have always maintained in discussions with people like Wilson, ultimately arguments need to stand or fall on their merits, not on funding, editing, or place of publication.